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Agreements on Trade Between the RECs

Ministers in charge of trade, customs, finance, economic matters and home/internal affairs from 3 regional economic communities (RECs) met recently to review progress on the implementation of various activities under the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA). Progress has been reported especially on the market integration pillar particularly on the exchange of tariff offers and on rules of origin. Negotiations have been concluded on the list Rules of Origin for 90% out of a total 5,387 tariff lines which are already contained in Annex IV of the Agreement and can be applied when the TFTA Agreement enters into force. Currently, 22 Tripartite Member/Partner States have signed the Agreement out of which, 11 – including Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, SA, Rwanda, Burundi, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe – have ratified it. Only 3 more ratifications are required for the Agreement to enter into force.

Elsewhere, COMESA will soon launch an Online Platform for Trade in Services which will be used to facilitate speedy and efficient negotiations and provide digital communication, thanks to the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) which has helped develop the platform. COMESA has also considered 2 studies that have been conducted to assess the status of trade in business services and construction services in the region. Readers are reminded that trade in services also includes ecommerce.

Alastair Tempest

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